Two women living at opposite ends of the Greater Toronto Area have died in fatal intimate partner violence incidents in the span of just 24 hours.
In both incidents, police have arrested and charged ex-partners in connection with the deaths.
The sun had barely risen in Brampton on Friday morning when Peel police were called to a house near Bramalea Road and Steeles Avenue. They found 29-year-old Vanessa Virgioni dead. In a matter of hours, officers were appealing to the public for help locating her ex-partner.
Peel Regional Police arrested Linval Alfonso Ritchie on Sunday and charged him with Virgioni’s murder.
It was Friday — the same day — when emergency crews rushed to a family home in Scarborough. Paramedics transported a man and a woman to hospital, both suffering from serious burns.
Neighbours told Global News they saw Henrietta Viski, 37, running outside in her garden, on fire. One neighbour tried to douse the flames with a garden hose.
“She was burning and she was running for her life,” Hassan Jirreh, whose wife tried to help Viski, said.
The next day, on Saturday, Viski died of her injuries in hospital. Toronto police arrested Norbert Budai, her estranged husband, who will face a murder charge.
Both men were former partners of the two women killed. At least one had been ordered by authorities not to contact or visit his wife.
Sohini Bhattacharya, a Toronto-based writer who specializes in social issues and intimate partner violence, told Global News the system “clearly is not working.”
“If the abuser has entered the legal system … and there’s a case history of violence against his partner, then all eyes should be on the victim at that point — protection of that victim, finding a safe house for that victim,” she said.
Court documents obtained by Global News show Viski’s estranged partner, Budai, pleaded guilty to three counts of uttering death threats in December, as well as two counts of failing to comply with a condition not to go near his wife.
Budai’s probation agreement stipulated that he would not communicate with Viski, directly or indirectly.
Despite the order not to interact with Viski, Budai faces a charge for her murder.
In Brampton, Virgioni’s family told Global News that Linval Alfonso Ritchie was her ex-boyfriend. Peel police described him as her “ex-partner.”
Court documents also suggest Ritchie had a troubled history with Virgioni that police knew about.
In March of 2019, Ritchie pleaded guilty to assault, break and enter and threatening death after breaking into the home of someone he knew. Global News learned the home was Virgioni’s.
Ritchie had an “extensive criminal history, including violence and a five-year weapons prohibition,” police said.
“We understand the profound impact this tragedy has had on many people and the community. We will continue to work with our partners to end intimate partner violence,” Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah said in a statement.
Family said Virgioni was a single mother and that her ex threatened and assaulted her before.
Ritchie was sentenced to 243 days of pre-sentence custody, a two-year suspended sentence and a five-year weapons ban.
“The only way this can change is (if) the victims become the front and centre of the legal system,” Bhattacharya said. “They need to be protected. Their protections should be front and centre.”
Viski’s death in a fatal intimate partner violence incident with an estranged partner leaves her three children without their mother. Virgioni leaves behind a seven-year-old son.
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